1000 local, unemployed people have been helped to start their own business by local Enterprise Agency, Wenta, since August 2011 through the successful running of the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) programme which was extended by The Department of Work and Pensions earlier on this year.
The New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) scheme provides those that are out of work with the opportunity to start their own business through a programme of comprehensive business support, advice and guidance, with the aim that they will be ready to start trading after 8 weeks. Once the individual has their business up and running, the NEA scheme continues to support them financially for the first 6 months.
In the first 8 weeks of the programme, support is provided in the form of business advice, access to free training courses that have been designed for those starting their own business and assistance in applying for any business start-up loans that may be available.
Sarah Mullens of Hemel Hempstead is Wenta's 1000th client to have started trading through the NEA scheme. She decided to set up her own post natal support business, 'Those Early Weeks', after being made redundant from the NHS in May 2013 and realising that there was very little support out there for new mums.
Sarah said: "I went to my local Job Centre in Hemel Hempstead and told my Job Centre Advisor that I wanted to start up my own Postnatal Support business for new parents. She explained the New Enterprise Allowance scheme to me and how Wenta could help. Within a few days, I received a telephone call from Wenta Business Advisor, Mike Williams, and an appointment was made for me to meet with him. At their first meeting, Mike provided Sarah with an overview of the NEA programme and the various support options available to her. âThe support I have received from Mike has been brilliant. He has helped me work out a business plan and a survival budget, booked me onto free training sessions related to starting a new business and most importantly, he has encouraged me every step of the way. I still have regular meetings with Mike in these early stages of trading and it is comforting to know he is there to guide me a little longer."
Sarah's business, www.thoseearlyweeks.co.uk, officially launched on 2nd October 2013 and is now growing steadily. As a qualified Nursery Nurse with 40 years of childcare experience, Sarah hopes to provide a great service for new parents, particularly mums, in the early weeks of having a new baby.
Those Early Weeks offers help and advice to mums who are struggling with aspects such as new baby's sleeping, feeding, winding and crying. "I hope that by the end of the first year of trading I will be supporting a regular number of new mums and being successful at doing so. One thing is certain, people will always keep having babies!" Sarah is very grateful for the help that she's received through Wenta and the NEA programme: "If I had not had the support to start my business I would probably still be on Job Seeker's Allowance or doing a job that I didnât really want to do. Wenta have been great and I would happily recommend them to people." Celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, Wenta deliver the NEA programme as well as a number of other self-employment programmes across Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire to help people turn their dream of starting their own business into a reality.
Executive Director of Wenta, Peter Cabon said: "The success of the New Enterprise Allowance programme has been amazing. We are now seeing around 150 new NEA clients a month and the majority of them are now successfully running their own business. The support we can provide, both face to face and online as well as the access to workshops and specialist surgeries, creates the confidence to turn business ideas into reality. With over 1000 people ceasing to claim JSA, the benefit to the individual, the local community and the economy is absolutely clear to see.